he rise of China as a world power and potential peer of the United States is set to define geopolitics in the 21st century. This seismic change led the Obama administration to initiate its so-called pivot to Asia. It led Donald Trump to make American competition with China one of his main campaign themes and later caused him to launch a trade war.
American primacists fear the rise of China, worrying that the U.S. will find it more difficult to impose its will (or at least attempt to) across the globe and to meddle and interfere with a myriad of issues that have no real bearing on America’s national security. On the other side of the divide, there are non-interventionists who seem to believe that the only threat China poses to the U.S. is the possibility that Beijing’s actions might trigger American warmongering.
Primacists certainly shouldn’t fear a hard military threat from China. Thanks to our superior geostrategic positioning, the odds of Beijing ever projecting as much power as Washington is almost nil. At the same time, the non-interventionists are wrong to underestimate the threat that Chinese power poses to the American way of life. One needn’t be a hawk or a card-carrying member of “the blob” to see this threat.
A rose-colored view of Chinese economic power is dismissive of what this power is actually capable of. John Tamny, director of the Center for Economic Freedom at FreedomWorks, argues that the Chinese love America and that our economic relationship is beneficial to both parties. According to Tamny, any American fear of China is merely the result of demonization by politicians. Similarly, economist Barry Brownstein has argued at the Foundation for Economic Education, one of America’s oldest classically liberal think tanks, that concerns about China can be overcome by both “love” and economic interdependence. To his credit, he acknowledges that economic interdependence failed to stop Imperial Germany and the UK from entering the First World War on opposite sides. But he brushes that aside by suggesting that we “make the economic interdependence between the U.S. and China so thick that war between the U.S. and China is no more imaginable than war between Ohio and Iowa.”
But contrary to Tamny’s effusive praise for China and his claims that it’s not a communist state, the regime in Beijing is still highly authoritarian and not in any way friendly to human freedom. The same government that ran thousands of protesters over with tanks, burned their corpses, then hosed them into the sewer system is now interning millions of Uighurs and creating a social credit system that would make Big Brother envious. No, it’s not America’s job to save the world, but as China’s economic power increases, so too will its ability to influence affairs in the United States towards nefarious ends. And it’s that very economic interdependence that non-interventionists such as Brownstein tout as the solution that will make this terrifying future possible.
Full post by Zachary Yost @ The American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/hawks-and-noninterventionists-are-both-getting-china-wrong/